The Huffington Post removed an article arguing for banning white men from voting after they discovered that the author of the piece didn’t actually exist.
In the original article, which was titled “Could It Be Time To Deny White Men The Franchise?” supposed MA Philosophy Student Shelley Garland argued for the removal of voting rights and the redistribution of wealth from white men, citing the election of President Trump, Brexit, and South Africa’s Democratic Alliance as reasons to act.
“Some of the biggest blows to the progressive cause in the past year have often been due to the votes of white men,” wrote “Garland” in the article. “If white men were not allowed to vote, it is unlikely that the United Kingdom would be leaving the European Union, it is unlikely that Donald Trump would now be the President of the United States, and it is unlikely that the Democratic Alliance would now be governing four of South Africa’s biggest cities.”
“If white men no longer had the vote, the progressive cause would be strengthened,” she continued, adding, “At the same time, a denial of the franchise to white men, could see a redistribution of global assets to their rightful owners.”
“This redistribution of the world’s wealth is long overdue, and it is not just South Africa where white males own a disproportionate amount of wealth,” Garland proclaimed.
Following the publication of the article and a large amount of backlash, The Huffington Post’s South African Editor-In-Chief, Verashni Pillay, defended the writer in an article of her own.
After complaining about the criticism The Huffington Post had received following the publication of the original article, Pillay claimed that “Garland’s underlying analysis about the uneven distribution of wealth and power in the world is pretty standard for feminist theory.”
“It has been espoused in many different ways by feminist writers and theorists for decades now. In that sense, there was nothing in the article that should have shocked or surprised anybody,” she continued, adding, “Dismantling the patriarchal systems that have brought us to where we are today, a world where power is wielded to dangerous and destructive ends by men, and in particular white men, necessarily means a loss of power to those who hold it.”
In a final article by Pillay titled “White Men And The Vote: Why We Took The Blog Down,” the HuffPo editor admitted that “Shelley Garland, who claimed to be an MA student at UCT, cannot be traced and appears not to exist.”
“We have immediately bolstered and strengthened our blogging procedures that, until now, have operated on the basis of open communication and good faith,” declared Pillay. “From now on, bloggers will have to verify themselves. We will hold discussions on putting in place even better quality controls.”
“In addition, we note the commentary on the content of the blog post and will submit it to the South African Press Ombudsman Joe Thloloe for his analysis of the opinion we carried,” she continued. “Huffington Post SA stands aligned to the Constitutional values of South Africa, particularly the Preamble of our Constitution which states that: ‘We the people of South Africa believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity.’ We further understand that universal enfranchisement followed a long struggle and we fully support this.”
“In addition, Huffington Post South Africa is a signatory to and supporter of the South Africa Press Code. We support free expression as limited by the following value as set out in that code,” Pillay concluded. “We apologise for the oversight.”